With the twin announcements about last year’s Rift success and additional funding raised, we had the chance to sit down to talk with Scott Hartsman about some of the upcoming game design elements in RIFT’s future as well as where Trion is going in 2012. Scott is a solid industry veteran who always brings passion to the table when talking about gaming and when talking about how RIFT continues to do very well among players.
Scott started off by explaining that RIFT remains a live game and a live service. He explained that the numbers from 2011 are a validation of Trion’s mission on these two key elements. Having a strong running live game with a team that listens to and responds to players is critical. Many players have enthusiastically said that the RIFT team continues to improve the game quickly and that devs truly listen to player feedback for improvements. Scott considers this a core part of the live service and the RIFT team has grown because of it.
The Return event for RIFT has just kicked off and is already successful. Scott said that it is great to see players coming back to check out new mechanics and features put into the game during their time away and that they might have missed. It gives players new systems and areas to exlpore and really works well to give returning players something to be excited about. This part of the service is important to Scott, who wants people to be able to join their friends in the world and grow with the game. The team continues to look at ways to address core flaws with MMOs including barriers of entry into the game, being able to meet up with your friends easily, and fast ways to get players where they want to be in the game. These are things the team is constantly looking at improving on every level. “That just scratches the surface,” Scott said, “We want to make greater strides for 2012.” Scott takes the promises that Trion makes to its players very seriously and wants to make sure the game delivers on everything. For Scott service in an MMO is the core of making a game last.
We talked a little about 1.7, “Carnival of the Ascended”, and what players can look forward to seeing. The first topic we discussed included PvP changes coming into the game. The team is making sure they support both a strong PvE and PvP end game. Later this week folks can expect a big post on the upcoming PvP changes. Scott could only go into a small amount of detail on them. Most of all they want fast, fun PvP for players. They want characters to get into PvP quickly with their groups and friends. So working on how to solve PvP wait times is critical. The team is surprised and happy at how well the Warfront PvP has grown so they are looking at ways to make the reward paths better and still give incentives to veteran players for their achievements. They are also looking into ways to have open PvP that is not simply faction based. Additionally, the Rift team is looking at many more rewards. They also want to improve the Soul System for PvP, making sure that players can have a viable spec for both PvP and PvE without having to feel like they are giving up a soul to do it. They don’t want players to have to make that choice. They are looking for ways to make improvements so that players don’t feel they have to make that choice. They want people to go out and be able to use the spec they most enjoy. Overall, Scott said they have a lot more PvP plans for 2012 but that we would have to wait a little longer for them.
The social area of the game is something else Scott addressed. Even though MMOs are about combat and exploring, the team is looking into ways to improve the social systems in the game. Gatherings and weddings are important and Rift devs want players to enjoy them. We laughed about the old school player gatherings that happened naturally in Ultima Online and Scott agreed that those were awesome fun even without a dev-designed system for them. Gatherings and weddings are two of the first ideas from the social team to make it into the game, but there are many more on the horizon. They want players to be able to host their own social events in the world.
The team is also analyzing the crafting system. Scott explained that crafting is a key part of the game and they want to bring more useful items in too. They are looking at ways to improve high end crafting for players to have more value. Don’t worry, Scott said, that RIFT will not turn into craftfest, but there are definitely areas of improvement that they want to work on.
2012 is shaping up to be an important year for Trion and with some of the new funding and developments. Scott is excited to explore new areas for the company. Everything remains at the core with RIFT and soon End of Nations as well as Defiance. The three projects are all in different phases but everything is moving along very well. End of Nations has been tested in the studio now and Defiance has had some in studio playable tests as well. If Defiance is anything like the demo we saw at E3 last year it will be very exciting.
Scott said the company continues to grow which is important in making the right choices in games. The company continues to expand into new markets and across the ocean in Asia. He wants players to know that Trion really does treat these projects as a live service and that live aspect is core to their game development.
Scott’s final message to players and fans is that Trion very much wants to deliver on its promises. The RIFT team works hard and Scott said his favorite part is the extent that the team will go to in order to make improvements. It allows more good ideas to come to the table and the team is getting them into the game and into test very quickly. It looks like RIFT and Trion have a bright 2012 ahead with great updates and two new projects to show off. Trion continues to get it right and work with the players in mind.